It is not advisable to bribe your kids to behave good!

  • By Sahana Rajan

Bribing :

Consider that you are at your friend's place and your child is behaving badly. You feel embarrassed and make a deal with your child: 'You act nice here and you will get a chocolate.' Motivated by the idea of getting a chocolate, the kid acts well. However, what are you really doing? You have initiated a process where a kid is only motivated to behave well, when, in fact, she/he has behaved improperly and a negotiation has arisen as a result of such behavior which promises him what she/he wants (chocolate, or any form of treat, for that matter).

Thus, bribing, in practice, is counter-productive to the idea of making your child understand why she/he should behave well and only leaves you with a sense of powerlessness. Slowly, the child will intentionally behave poorly, knowing that you would negotiate a deal where she/he will get what she/he wants. They would most probably carry this pattern to their teens, negatively affecting their relationships.

Rewarding :

Consider this situation: Your child gets good marks in the exam and you pat the child on the shoulder and say, 'You have done great! We are proud of you dear!' While you can also accompany this appreciation with a material gift (it is best to keep material objects out of the equation, though!). It is best to make your child believe that relationships are based on emotions and that behaving well makes her/his parents feel happy. This happiness - the happiness of those she/he is in a relationship (companionship/friendship) with - should be the basis of the child's behavior until the child reaches an age where she/he can discern right from the wrong.

Child psychologist, Rebecca Johnson said that, 'Children are like clay. Parents are the ones who mold them into the people they become later in their lives. It is critically important that the form of incentive provided to the children is positive and not based on any contracts.'

What if the interests of these relationships conflict and she/he has to decide whose happiness matters? Children must be inclined to approach their parents in such situations. To ensure this happens, you have to make sure that you treat their good behavior with a reward. For this reason, many psychologists who work in family counseling have repeatedly emphasized that the idea of love is essential to the family and is important that children know this through the behavior of the parents. You must ensure that you behave well with family members and gain the trust of the child, so that she/he will approach you in cases where they feel threatened or confused.

Thus, if you have been in the habit of bribing your child for behaving well, stop right now before it is too late and start on the path of rewarding your child emotionally for their achievements.


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